Achieving Permanent Left Ventricular Pacing—Options and Choice


Address for reprints: Ernest W. Lau, M.D., Department of Cardiology, Royal Victoria Hospital, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BA, UK. Fax: 0028-9063-4821; e-mail:


Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) requires permanent left ventricular (LV) pacing. Coronary sinus (CS) lead placement is the first line clinical approach but can be difficult or impossible; may suffer from a high LV pacing threshold, phrenic nerve stimulation, and dislodgement; and produces epicardial LV pacing, which is less physiological and hemodynamically effective and potentially more proarrhythmic than endocardial LV pacing. CS leads can usually be extracted with direct traction but may require use of extraction sheaths. Half of CS side branches previously used for lead placement may be unusable for the same purpose after successful lead extraction, and 30% of CS lead reimplantation attempts may fail due to exhaustion of side branches. Surgical epicardial LV lead placement is the more invasive second line approach, produces epicardial LV pacing, and has a lead failure rate of ≈15% in 5 years. Transseptal endocardial LV lead placement is the third line approach, can be difficult to achieve, but produces endocardial LV pacing. The major concern with transseptal endocardial LV leads is systemic thromboembolism, but the risk is unknown and oral anticoagulation is advised. Among the new CRT recipients in the United States and Western Europe between 2003 and 2007, 22,798 patients may require CS lead revisions, 9,119 patients may have no usable side branches for CS lead replacement, and 1,800 patients may require surgical epicardial LV lead revision in the next 5 years. The CRT community should actively explore and develop alternative approaches to LV pacing to meet this anticipated clinical demand.